A qualitative study of high level wellness, health and happiness
Abstract: The World Health Organization(1946/2006)recognises that everyone has the right to enjoy the highest possiblestandard of physical, mentaland social wellbeing(high level wellness, health and happiness), regardlessof their socioeconomic circumstances, ethnicity or beliefs. Decades of research have provided a good understanding of the factors that facilitate high level wellness, including healthy food, physicalactivity, supportive relationships and equitable access to money, power and resources (Commission on Social Determinants of Health, 2008; Donaldson, Dollwet, & Rao, 2015; World Health Organization, 2015b, 2017a). However, relatively few people appear to be flourishing (Huppert & So, 2013; Keyes & Simoes, 2012), suggesting that this growing body of knowledge on wellness determinants has not translated into ‘high level wellness for all’. Qualitative research on the lived experience of high level wellness could complement existing initiatives, by providing new perspectives on what this way of beingis, and how people attain and maintain it. This information couldbenefit a range of audiences, includingpeople who have not experienced high level wellness first hand, or known anyone who has.
Aim: This study aimed to provide a new understanding of high level wellness,based on interviews with25 Australian adults. It focused on two research questions: (1) ‘What is high level wellness?’, and (2) ‘How do people attainand maintain this way of being?’Participants were recruited via traditional and social media(i.e., newspapers, radio, television, Facebook, Linked In, Twitterand email). These peoplewere over the age of 18, lived in South East Queensland (Australia), and reporteda high (or very high)level of ‘wellness’, ‘health’ and ‘happiness’.The 20 female participants ranged from25 to 65 years of age (M=43.6), whereas the fivemaleswere agedbetween 41 and 60 (M=53.4). Participants lived in Brisbane (n=14), Gold Coast (n=7), Logan (n=2), Ipswich (n=1) and the Sunshine Coast (n=1). Household income levels were described as low (n=7), medium (n=12) and high (n=4), with two participants not disclosing this information. Intensive, semi-structured interviews were used to generate rich, qualitative data. Each participant was provided with an opportunity to discuss their understanding of high level wellness (including what types of words they used to describe it), their wellness journeys, what helped (and what made itharder), how they were similar to (and different from) less healthy happy people, and how others could become more healthy and happy. They also reflected on the type of day that made them feel particularlyhealthy and happy, and the type of day that did not. Follow up questions were used to elicit more information, and participants A qualitative study of high level wellness, health and happiness (Connie Allen)iiiwere asked to comment on data patterns after providing their own responses. Each of the interviewslasted between 35 and 259 minutes (M=84 minutes). They were audio-recorded with participant consent, and transcribed into 470 pages (300,000 words) of data. Pseudonyms were used to conceal participant identities.